Breaking: Lincoln will oppose reconciliation

It appears that the lesson of Scott Brown’s surprise victory did not go completely unnoticed by Senate Democrats from red states.  Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) announced today that she will not go along with the rumored plan to use reconciliation to push ObamaCare through Congress, making the plan much more complicated for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to succeed:

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will oppose Dem efforts to move health care legislation through Congress using budget reconciliation, hurting Dems’ chances for using the controversial parliamentary maneuver to pass a reform bill.

“I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes,” Lincoln said in a statement on Tuesday. “I have successfully fought for transparency throughout Senate deliberations on health care, and I will continue to do so.”

“I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans. We have worked too long and too hard on this reform effort – we need to get it right,” she said.

Translation: I hear footsteps.  Lincoln no longer clears 45% in state polling against any of her likely Republican opponents for her re-election bid.  She is in serious danger of losing her seat, thanks to her cave-in to Reid late last year in her vote for cloture — on a bill that won’t wind up being law anyway, even if reconciliation succeeds.

The question will be whether Reid needs 60 votes to get through reconciliation.  If he truly strips the bill down to budgetary items, he won’t.  But what Lincoln’s statement does is put pressure on the other red-state Democrats in the Senate, who also see their political ruin written in the results of losing a seat in bluer-than-blue Massachusetts.  If Lincoln balks, so will Ben Nelson, almost certainly Evan Bayh, and perhaps even Snarlin’ Arlen Specter, whose prospects of victory look bleak in Pennsylvania.

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